Amid backlash over a controversial social media post, Liberty University announced that Jerry Falwell Jr. has agreed to “take an indefinite leave of absence” from his positions at the university, as reported by The Blaze.
A statement released on Friday did not specifically state why he would be stepping down, but signaled that the decision was made at the request of the Christian university’s board.
“The Executive Committee of Liberty University’s Board of Trustees, acting on behalf of the full Board, met today and requested that Jerry Falwell, Jr. take an indefinite leave of absence from his roles as President and Chancellor of Liberty University, to which he has agreed, effective immediately,” it read.
Though the remarks did not mention any cause, the timing lends itself to an obvious connection to an Instagram photo he posted while on vacation earlier this month. In it, Falwell can be seen with his arm around a woman who was not his wife. Both had their shirts raised and their pants unfastened and unzipped.
“More vacation shots,” the caption read. “Lots of good friends visited us on the yacht. I promise that’s just black water in my glass.”
The post led to widespread criticism, including one call for his resignation from a Republican lawmaker who also serves on the university’s music advisory board.
“Jerry Falwell Jr’s ongoing behavior is appalling,” tweeted Rep. Mark Walker (R-NC).
“None of us are perfect”
— The Hill (@thehill) August 4, 2020
“I’m convinced Falwell should step down,” Walker’s statement continued. “None of us are perfect, but students, faculty, alumni and [LU Praise] deserve better.”
While Falwell removed the post, issued an apology, and attempted to explain the context behind the photo, the damage had apparently already been done.
Falwell said he would “try to be a good boy” in the future and identified the woman pictured with him as his wife’s pregnant assistant. He said they both had trouble zipping their pants in the moments before the photo was taken.
It remains unclear when, or if, Falwell will again take the helm of the respected institution. It is yet another mark in favor of Liberty University’s credibility that its board is obviously treating this situation seriously.